There’s an obvious spiritual movement playing out on the world stage and Christians are missing it.
It’s not a new megachurch.
It’s not a certain preaching style.
It’s not a hot worship band.
Bigger than all of that.
It’s people like Justin Bieber.
And Chance the Rapper.
And Kevin Durant.
And Selena Gomez.
And Chris Pratt.
And yes, Kanye West, too.
It’s the undeniable shift from a largely anti-God pop culture to one that celebrates Sunday Services at Coachella and covers worship songs at major pop concerts and posts devotionals for millions of followers to read on Instagram. It’s Kanye’s next album (dropping this Saturday) straight up titled, “Jesus is King.”
God is moving through key players at the top of society, and using their incredibly powerful platforms to speak Truth into the hearts of millions.
What’s crazy is that most Christians have not only missed this movement, we’ve been some of its biggest critics. People praise celebrities when they do something outwardly spiritual—like the time Chance the Rapper released a cover of “How Great Is Our God” and we all accepted him as our Generation’s Chris Tomlin—but when they screw up, church people are the first to humiliate, criticize, and doubt the validity of their faith altogether.
We ask questions like:
What if this is all for their own gain and has nothing to do with God?
How do I know they’re actually Christians?!?!?!?!
To which I ask, how much does that really matter?
Let’s play it out.
At best—they’ve genuinely turned to Jesus.
What an incredible thought!
What a redemptive story for somebody like Justin Bieber—whose sins are as famous as he is—to praise the name of Jesus in public in 2019. How sweet must his songs of worship be to the God who takes joy in crushing the darkness and turning it to light.
How wild must the Grace of God be that it would completely infiltrate the depths of a culture naturally pitted against it! In the midst of hopelessness, He is giving hope to the biggest players in the game.
But when they screw up it’s game over. People don’t know what to do when a blue-check celebrity with a bible verse in their Instagram bio sins in full view of the entire world. What do we do when their public behaviors don’t match the faith they’re professing?
Give them Grace and lower our expectations.
A major celebrity talks about Jesus once and we expect them to become sinless. Done with all forms temptation overnight. Sell the Lambo and the mansions and quit cursing and never go to a club again. Etcetera. Etcetera.
But were you finished struggling with sin the moment you were saved?
If so, cast all the stones you want.
Picture half the world having a strong, vocal opinion about your every move. Think about every crooked thing you’ve ever done. Would you post it all on the internet for the world to see? Add it to your wikipedia page? Call up a local reporter and have them run an exposé on your past mistakes?
That’s what they’re up against.
We should treat famous Christians as brothers and sisters, not priests and prophets.
I’d bet the woman Jesus met at the well still had major issues to work through after her encounter with Him. She was at the start of a journey, not the end.
Zaccheus may have still struggled with greed after his conversion-in-a-tree.
The Ethiopian man who met Philip on the road and demanded to be baptized that very instant had a whole lifetime of learning ahead of him.
Each was free from the grip of death the moment they were saved. But—if they were like anybody I’ve met—they still had a lifetime of sanctification to go.
That’s why we celebrate the redemptive power of God’s Grace in everybody who repents, but learn how to live from disciples like Peter and John and Paul. People who have spent enormous amounts of time learning from God and becoming more like Jesus.
Men and women who have been transformed by the Holy Spirit over time.
At worst—they’re using the name of Jesus for their own gain.
Which sounds bad until you look at what Jesus said about it.
One time the disciples told Jesus about a man who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, even though he wasn’t part of their group. I can imagine the swell of self-righteous pride in their chests as they reported squashing this nonsense.
No more demon casting for you, Buster.
The Boss Man is gonna be so proud.
“Do not stop him. For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.”
What?! This guy was obviously doing it all for the wrong reasons. And you’re just going to let him keep capitalizing on your name to build his own following?
Sure, Jesus wished they would completely turn to him. But if they wouldn’t, at least they were doing something helpful for the Movement. He can use anybody he wants to use, even people who are trying to use him for their own good.
Years later, Paul encounters people who preach Jesus simply to build a platform for their own power and wealth.
“But what does it matter?” He says. “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”
And so must we.
If we’re really about supporting the movement of God throughout the world, events like Kanye’s Sunday Service should be cause for celebration—no matter what you think of Kanye OR what Kanye thinks of Kanye—because Christ. Is. Preached.
Let’s celebrate it.
Let’s stop treating famous people like they’re inhuman.
Let’s add fuel to the fire any way we can.
There’s no telling what God will do with this movement.
But I’d bet we’ll realize it in Heaven.
And we’ll celebrate it for eternity.